Long Islanders are often protective of their village governments when talk of consolidation comes up. Many like having their own police forces, zoning or hyperlocal control of parks. But most probably don’t care whether their village collects its own taxes, nor should they.
All of the 22 villages covered by the Town of Hempstead do collect their own taxes, but Don Clavin, the town’s receiver of taxes, is trying to see whether that service can be consolidated. The town already collects taxes for itself, school districts, Nassau County, and many sanitation, water and fire districts. Still, Clavin, said that often leaves Hempstead’s tax- and mail-processing equipment sitting idle.
If the town collected taxes for the villages, money could be saved on software, computers, printers and other equipment, just for starters. And the move would likely be eligible for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s cash awards for such consolidations of services.
There are logistic and legal hurdles. Existing tax-collection systems vary greatly. Approval from village boards, the town and probably the State Legislature would be needed. Several village mayors are on board, and Clavin is reaching out to the rest, as well as to town board members, to get support.
A Hempstead Town household might well pay onerous taxes to Nassau County, its village, a school district, and fire, sanitation and water districts. This tweak to how they’re collected wouldn’t make those taxes much less onerous, but it would be a smart start and an approach that other towns should consider.
— The editorial board